Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 30, 2011
When I think of years chronologically, I tend to think of them in terms of how many dresses I sewed that year! In 2009, for instance, I was so busy preparing for the England costume tour that I only sewed one Regency gown and spencer jacket, along with half a dozen blouses and numerous “Liesl” dress prototypes. The next year I began with a time-intensive Victorian ball gown which took about sixty hours to complete, and focused much of my time on finalizing the Liesl dress instructions for printing in early 2010. That year also saw a dark green taffeta jacket, peach faille sundress, several lacy heirloom tops, and matching dark green silk Christmas outfits for my mother and I.
This past year tops them all, though! Besides sewing so many Liesl dresses it wasn’t even funny, I published the pattern for Baroness Schraeder’s Evening Gown in late spring and Maria’s Gazebo Dress pattern in late summer. But since it can be a little strenuous to only ever sew things for other people or for business purposes, I also took some time to make myself a total of five 1950s dresses, two crinoline skirts, two stretchy knit tops, an Edwardian gown, Victorian petticoat, and I altered an enormous amount of tops by sewing stretch lace into the necklines for a quick “mock-camisole” look.
But in 2012, I am hoping to be a bit more intentional with my sewing and blogging schedule.
Business wise, I hope to add the pattern for “Liesl’s Dress” in little girls’ sizes to the Edelweiss Patterns collection, as well as releasing the pattern for “Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress” in women’s sizes by summer. Ideally, I would be thrilled to publish “Liesl’s Party Dress” pattern in the upcoming months as well. I have studied the “Sound of Music” costumes for so long that it’s really hard to decide which is my favorite and which I should design next!
For the blog, my goal for each month is to write at least one post on a particular film’s costumes (I have a lot in mind!), and sew either a vintage/retro dress (1930s -1950s) or a historical/film costume each month. Of course I will also add some sewing how-tos and pattern giveaways, and I am considering hosting a sew-along for a new “Liesl blouse” design I concocted from the Liesl dress pattern (more on that soon!).
So here’s a little of what’s coming in the next several weeks:
Diana Berry’s Going – Away Dress
Remember that gorgeous dress Diana wore in “Anne of Avonlea” right after her wedding? It is by far my favorite “Anne of Avonlea” film costume, and one that I think I will finally make after years of admiring it. While I cannot find an exact match for the lace on her gown, I will be using some heirloom laces that were passed down to me from an actual Edwardian collection. I can’t wait to finish this one!
Butterick Retro Pattern 5708
I was so elated when I saw this new design! While it looks similar to Butterick 4790 (the famous “walkaway dress”) with the same “v” point seam in the bodice front and back, it is really completely different in the way it’s constructed. The upper bodice is cut on the bias, the almost rectangular skirt is gathered as opposed to flaring out like B4790’s circle skirt, and it has a hidden side zipper and shoulder ties. And best of all, it appears to fit the model much better than any of the previous retro designs I’ve seen. Most of the reproduction patterns have way too much ease in the bodice, but in a few days from now (when I finish my first version of this dress) I will know for sure!
I have enjoyed sewing during 2011 so much, and I’m looking forward the year to come!
Happy sewing and Happy New Year,
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 23, 2011
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas!” Well, I was planning on posting my 1950s Christmas dress pictures a few weeks ago, but it just so worked out that I am posting it only a day before Christmas Eve! So here are pictures of the party dress I made from a shiny black and red checked material, and trimmed with black velvet at the collar and cuffs. Like the blue silk 1950s dress I made this fall, I used the Butterick retro pattern 5556 – more or less (I’m afraid it was less this time!).
The fabric is a mixture of red lame and black cotton/poly, which meant that it would melt if you tried to iron it! So when it came to pressing all those skirt seams I just had to settle for flat-felling them, minus actually using an iron. And since velvet cannot be ironed under any circumstances (unless you want to ruin it), I spent a little extra time to “finger press” the seams.
For this version of B5556, I omitted the front darts in favor of my favorite type of “tuck”, which is really easy to do but gives a much more flattering finish.
Any good 1950s housewife would have had a stack of dishes to wash, I'm sure!
When I came to the bodice I didn’t like how tightly it was fitting, so I initially made plackets from the black velvet down the center front which I intended to close with buttons. But somehow it was still too tight and straight for my liking, so I added a “v” shaped black velvet panel down the center. On one side this panel is sewn to the inside of the placket, and on the other side it closes with snaps.
And since a looser fit meant the dress fit differently than the blue one I sewed, I decided to add some rayon Venice lace to the neckline to add a couple of inches. I’m not entirely sure what era this lace came from, but it was in a collection of Edwardian laces that I inherited from my friend’s grandmother. I think it was sitting in a cedar chest for at least sixty years, but it’s still in very good condition. As with the velvet “v” panel, the lace is attached on one side and closes with snaps on the other to allow for a front opening. (I omitted the side zipper altogether for this rendition of Butterick 5556.)
I have so enjoyed wearing the dresses I’ve made from this Butterick retro pattern, but if I make another version I would lengthen the bodice by a couple of inches. Right now the bodice hits me a good two inches about the natural waistline, which means you don’t have to wear a corset with it, but it makes you look a little shorter and stops well above the narrowest part of your waist.
I made the belt detachable, which was nice since I actually prefer the dress without the belt.
So once I finally finished sewing this “vintage” party dress, I had a plethora of festive occasions to wear it for! I first donned this 1950s dress for a Christmas party earlier this week, and the next day I wore it for the photo shoot in a retro-looking kitchen! Today the dress was put to use again when I attended a jazz Christmas concert which my dad performed in.
Me, my dad, and Rick Homer... You'll notice that men can only be on this blog if they're wearing tuxedos. (Well, I did let Michael Landon on in his three-piece white suit.) : )
My father (a jazz singer and pianist) was joined by one of my favorite people – Mr. Rick Homer, who is the son of legendary jazz musician Ben Homer. Ben Homer co-wrote the now-classic song “Sentimental Journey“ while touring with Les Brown and his “band of renown“. In the 1940s when Ben Homer was traveling the country with this band, Les Brown discovered a young singer by the name of Doris Kappellhoff, whom you may know better as Doris Day. Doris joined the touring band accompanied by her mother who acted as a chaperone of sorts to ensure she would be safe. Since the musicians often traveled with their families back then, Ben and his wife brought along their then-baby Rick Homer. And when the couple wanted to go around town by themselves, Doris would offer to help out by watching their child. So this man who plays with my dad was frequently babysat by Doris Day!
Today Rick is an outstanding trumpet player, and frequently appears with my father for their jazz gigs. Today they played a selection of “Swing” era Christmas songs, jazzed up carols, and some Christmas “Chipmunk” for fun. My dad brought the house down with the finale of “O Holy Night”, and all in all it was a very memorable occasion to wear my dress to! (And everyone loved the dress today, too!)
So my sewing is done for at least a couple days, and I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! I am so thankful to the Lord for all the things I’ve been able to sew this past year, and I look forward to seeing what sewing projects are in store for the coming year!
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas,
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 17, 2011
For many of us, Christmas jut wouldn’t be Christmas without the sound of Bing Crosby’s crooning brightening our homes as we decorate for the holidays. Bing’s name is almost synonymous with family Christmas celebrations, both for his records and Christmas films, not to mention his Christmas shows! But it is that last venue, his yearly Christmas shows, that brings us to his lovely wife Kathryn Crosby and her fabulous holiday dresses!
For the family's first appearance with Bing, Kathryn and Mary Crosby wore matching silk shantung gowns of pastel plaid.
The annual Bing Crosby Christmas Show aired during the 1960s and 70s when he was often joined by his wife and children for a truly family-friendly Christmas program. His young wife Kathryn, along with their daughter Mary Frances and sons Harry and Nathaniel, were part of the much looked-forward to television broadcast.
For this show, Kathryn and her daughter wear matching pink brocade dresses with double-breasted button closures. Kathryn's gown, however, has light pink fur around the collar.
To add to the festivity of the occasion, Kathryn and her daughter always wore matching mother-daughter outfits, which were usualy elegant floor-length gowns. These ensembles conveyed the holiday cheer with rich colors and luxurious fabrics, all the while maintaining a sense of prestige and modesty as “Mrs. Bing Crosby”.
For this Christmas show the dresses were cranberry velveteen with high collars, empire waists, and white cuffs.
In a 1972 magazine interview, Kathryn Crosby and her wardrobe were described in this way:
“Kathryn Crosby is, at age 37, a fashion plate who wears only Jean Louis custom-made clothes, but fashion isn’t her only interest. ‘Bing likes just below-the-knee hemlines – period,’ says his wife, the former Texas-bred actress, Kathryn Grant, a Methodist-turned-Catholic who describes Bing as ‘a former priest who got married.’ ‘My husband wants our daughter, Mary Frances, to wear below-the-knee skirts, too…‘”
This stunning blue nad white velvet gown was designed to match the set for that year's Christmas show.
I do wonder why he appeared in so many Hollywood movies if he really held this conviction about dressing modestly, but perhaps it was just a “later-in-life” principle he adopted – after all, Bing was old enough to be a grandfather by the time he raised this family!
Bing Crosby had first met Kathryn Grant during the filming of the movie “White Christmas” in 1954, where she was helping with the wardrobe department during her interim between film jobs. This vivacious brunette with the soft Texan accent was over 30 years his junior! But despite the vast age difference and the subsequent teasing they endured for it, the couple were married in 1957 in what I assume was not a vastly publicized wedding, as there are no remaining photographs of the occasion.
Bing and Kathryn Crosby with their first baby in 1958.
Together they had a happy family and a marriage that lasted for twenty years until Bing’s death in 1977. And while his family will never be the same without him, the musical legacy he left behind continues to delight his listeners all over the world. What better time to turn on some old Bing Crosby music than during Christmas?
(P.S. Yes, I am still going to post pictures of my red 1950s Christmas dress, but my photographer has been 3,000 miles away and just got back to town – you can be sure I’ll have him snap photos just as soon as he recovers from jet leg!) : )
Happy Holiday Sewing!